Grazing The Sky

 

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The well-known Cirque du Soleil is the subject of this unconventional documentary portraying life among the artists who work for them.

 

The word that comes to mind when watching Grazing the Sky is impressionistic. It is very much the work of Horacio Alcalá who, in addition to directing, shares the writing credit and his approach is not what I had been expecting (and not what I had hoped for either).


There must be many like myself who have heard of the famous Cirque du Soleil which travels the world and yet know very little about it. Just what its history is and how it functions were matters on which I expected the film to inform me. But instead the emphasis is on artists who work for the Cirque and on what each of them does as a performer, and this comes at the expense of supplying any real context. If we learn nothing of its administration, equally we get no idea of what range is covered in any given performance.

 

  grazing the sky

 

A number of individuals emerge whose stories are interesting, but, if the entertainment offered by this circus without animals involves acts of which it could be said that seeing is believing, then that’s something that might well be less striking on film. To counter this Alcalá goes out of his way to be creatively cinematic aided by his photographer David Palacios, his editor Nacho Ruiz Capillas and not least through the music used. But, if this leads to some memorable images, it also has to be said that this film has no sense of shape at all. Furthermore, repeated intercut shots of an individual in two different locations illustrate the point at which art becomes merely arty.


Comments by various artists as to what they feel about their work and descriptions of the Cirque as being a shared experience twice over (between artists and audience and also between the artists themselves who feel like family) make an impact. A recovery following an injury seems to provide a climax, but the film goes on. Alcalá does turn to Beethoven – the 7th Symphony – to add impact to a montage but, for all the striking moments, we are left feeling that in order to understand the Cirque du Soleil, its aims and achievements clearly we need another film.  

 

MANSEL STIMPSON     

 

Featuring members of Cirque du Soleil.

 

Dir Horacio Alcalá, Original idea Patrick Flynn, Ph David Palacios, Ed Nacho Ruiz Capillas.


Cámara Boreal/Ukbar Films (Portugal)/Color Space México-Matchbox Films.
88 mins. Spain/Portugal/Mexico. 2013. Rel: 11 December 2015. Cert. U.